Tile manufacturer invests £2m at Scottish plant

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Burton headquartered pitched roof tile manufacturer, Russell Roof Tiles (RRT) has completed a £2m upgrade at its Scottish plant.

Two years in the planning, the firm invested in a major upgraded at its utility plant at the 11-acre site at Lochmaben, Scotland. This major update ensures continued 24-hour output.

The investment allows the manufacturer to continue to meet the high level of demand for its tiles. RRT is the largest independent manufacturer of concrete derivatives for pitched roofing in the UK and employs approx. 60 staff in Lochmaben, plus an additional two sites in Burton on Trent.

The £2m project started in 2020 but both construction and machinery was delayed due to the impacts of Covid-19.  The new facility uses the latest robotic technology – the firm’s first robotic packer - from Vortex Hydra which will both improve production speeds, efficiencies and futureproofs the facility for the next 20 years.

The team collaborated closely with specialists Vortex Hydra – who have been successfully designing, assembling and installing concrete tile production plants globally for the past 50 years.  Vortex Hydra have previously worked with Russell Roof Tiles on multiple projects over the past 35 years.

Bruce Laidlaw, Operations Director, led the project and comments: “Working closely the original machine suppliers, our specification focused on overhauling and upgrading all key machines required to manufacture the roof tiles.  Part of this focused on increasing the speed of the production line, and installing robots in the packing system, a first for us.”

With orders placed in 2020, then equipment ready for delivery, the global pandemic hit, and the project timeline was delayed.  The Vortex Hydra team were then impacted by issues in getting the required Italian engineers to site, to commence the upgrade, due to restrictions on international travel. 

Bruce added: “Eventually, towards the end of 2021 when vaccinations allowed travel to recommence, we committed to the installation programme, on a very tight schedule to meet ongoing sales demands. 

“With excellent teamwork between Vortex Hydra and local contractors, we completed commissioning in April and we immediately returned to 24-hour production.  We have very quickly seen benefits with much improved efficiencies at the higher speeds, which in turn has helped service the high ongoing demand for our products in our key markets of Scotland and North England.”

Andrew Hayward, Managing Director at Russell Roof Tiles said: “These major improvements will allow us to increase the capacity. This is an important milestone in Russell Roof Tiles’ long term capital improvement plan to further enhance quality across the business, utilising the latest innovations in manufacturing.”